Opinion piece by Robin Youngson, co-founder of Hearts in Healthcare
Elon Musk, the visionary founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, foresees a time in the near future where artificial intelligence systems will simulate human consciousness. If that’s the case, he speculates, maybe all of human consciousness and reality is just an elaborate simulation run by advanced beings from another world?
If for a moment we imagined this to be true, what just happened in the Brexit ‘script’?
A simulation engineer tweaked just one number on a spreadsheet by five percent: the ratio between ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’. As a consequence our whole world fell apart. Overnight, we changed the definition of nationhood, re-wrote the UK law book, caused chaos in the world economy, knocked 10% off the value of the Sterling currency, wiped $2 trillion off world markets, and completely re-wrote the front pages of newspapers.
Coming back to our real world we discovered in the Brexit moment that our so-called concrete reality is nothing more than an elaborate construct. So much of what we held to be true changed overnight. We had our ‘Truman Show’ moment as depicted in the 1998 science fiction film. Everything in Truman Burbank’s life, although he doesn’t know it, is part of a massive TV set. Reality comes crashing through in a stunning scene where a hole is ripped in the ‘sky’ and a studio lamp falls to the ground at Truman’s feet.
In reality, Europe doesn’t actually exist at all: it’s merely an elaborate construct composed of arbitrary lines drawn on a map, combined with a set of rules. But we behave as if the map is reality. The world economy also doesn’t actually exist, it’s just a set of binary numbers stored in computers.
Brexit show us a rent in the fabric of our reality: we’re all in the ‘matrix’ and the cardinal rule was broken – just for a moment we saw the simulation for what it is.
This is a pivotal moment. This is the moment when the global elite lose their power. This is the moment when we get to re-imagine our future according to any rules we want.
That’s why Elon Musk is so powerful, he sees the simulation and realises he can create any future he wants. It’s also we why we instinctively distrust and dislike Hilary Clinton: she too knows it’s all an illusion, which she cynically manipulates to maintain power (why else would she choose as Secretary of State to store all her emails on a private email server).
Our current political/economic system is like an appalling soap opera. We know it’s the last season of this particular series: when script-writers invent characters as bizarre as Donald Trump we all begin to lose interest. Hilary Clinton, in her power suit, is no more than a female character version of the cunning and dastardly JR Ewing, from the hit series ‘Dallas’. We can’t wait for a new TV series, one that offers real characters and story-lines that represent our own best ideals, hopes and fears.
I’m not arguing this point as some kind of metaphor; for me it represents vivid reality. I’ve devoted the last two decades of my life to improving healthcare, especially trying to inspire greater humanity and compassion in the way we treat both patients and health professionals. I’ve recently come to the liberating conclusion that our existing healthcare system is fundamentally incompatible with compassion, healing and wellbeing. The ‘simulation’ rules simply don’t allow humanity and compassion to flourish. It’s a liberating realisation because now we can end futile efforts to change the system and instead devote our energies to creating a new ‘script’, one based on fundamentally different values.
Over the last ten years, inch by inch, through many painful failures, we’ve gradually started to discover new ways of working that allow our work to flourish. Looking back, I can see it was a slow process of noticing the unconscious rules that govern our assumptions about how to get things done in the world. It was a difficult process of unlearning, as elaborated in my blog, ‘Seven pitfalls for the compassion champion‘. What this process partly uncovers is the ‘script’ of our modern drama, the ‘simulation’ rules that govern our assumed world reality.
The new rules that govern our work at Hearts in Healthcare are pointing to a deeper reality, a more sacred version of the world governed by love, compassion, healing and profound inter-connection.
For example, in the current ‘script’ of the world we do business by turning natural and human gifts into commodities that are owned, controlled, bought and sold. Thus our stories and ideas become ‘intellectual property’. We started our work using conventional business transactions: quoting a fee for consulting work or speaking. Now we are moving into an alternative world reality: the ‘gift’ economy. We prefer not to quote a fee for our work, simply promising to serve our client to the best of our ability and inviting a donation in return. That shift to a new ‘script’ has unlocked extraordinary opportunities and great generosity from our clients.
In our busy lives we occasionally fall out of the ‘simulation’ and catch glimpses of this deeper reality when we become truly present: in moments of meditation, stillness, awe, compassion and selfless action.
What Brexit shows is that we don’t have to agonise for decades to solve problems like poverty, inequality, violence and climate change. We can change the rules overnight. Our first step is seeing our political/economic system for what it really is: a giant construction, no more than a script with made-up rules.
The Emperor has no clothes, this is the beginning of the end for the global elite.
(PS. Despite the title, I’m not arguing for the merits of Brexit, I think separatist movement are potentially dangerous)